Miss Independents of Singapore, this is for you.
I am always baffled by society’s repulsion towards the act of doing things – dare I say it? Alone. This following conversation is one you must have heard over and over again or even partook in.
A: Eh, you not eating lunch arh? Nearly two o’clock already!
B: Cannot lah, no one wants to go down to the canteen for lunch.
A: Go down yourself lorh, now the canteen won’t be too packed.
B: Siao ah! Later I go down and eat by myself, people think I no friend have to eat alone then how?
Grammar Nazis who have just self-combusted from the blatant bastardisation of the Queen’s English, I have also provided a translation for your viewing pleasure:
A: It’s nearly two o’clock and you haven’t eaten lunch yet?
B: I’ll have to skip out on lunch today, as no one is willing to come along with me to do an activity that only requires the sole usage of my money and my mouth. For if I shall commit to such a sacrilegious act, I will be publicly lynched before I can devour my plate of fried hokkien mee.
For individuals who value silence in a world that never seems to stop talking, I have always wondered if there were any happily singular activities to do. And so began my journey to create a list specifically for it.
For those who wish to take a break from the vicious cycle of tweeting and hashtagging, or perhaps just to revel in the conversation of silence once in a while, here's my list of the top ten activities you can do by yourself in Singapore without getting lynched.
1. Be a tourist in your own country
For the contentedly single individuals out there looking for an adventure but too scared to go overseas backpacking alone. Why not start your journey of solo-fun with a trip down to some of Singapore's most tourist-infested areas?
Put on your best tourist outfit - bring a camera, wear a hat and look perpetually lost.
Soak in the frenzied atmosphere at the base of the Merlion and fight with tourists tooth and nail to get the best shot of our nations's spewing fish-lion. If you are so inclined, try chatting to the tourists next to you. There's always an opportunity to make new friends! Or just watch the water loll in the Singapore River. You'll see a very different Singapore through the Looking Glass from the perspective of a tourist.
Plus, for all those photograph fanatics seeking to snap the cover of the next National Geographic issue, Singapore is also in possession of a variety of rather photogenic scenery points for you to snap away to your heart's content!
2. Museum trips
Museum trips make a perfect activity for all those cultural hippy-dippy lone rangers tired of watching the History channel who want something that requires more muscle work than pressing the buttons of your remote control.
Not forgetting that practically all admissions to museums in Singapore are now free of charge. Why not spend a quiet Sunday afternoon artfully stroking your chin whilst staring at a chipped milo cup from the 1950s?
As a history student, the National Museum of Singapore is one of my top favourites as you can rent a small interactive portable recording set and play the set recordings whilst going through the different exhibits.
For those who are new to the whole “solo-adventure-fun-time” and are hesitant about spending a few hours walking in complete silence, then let the soft dulcet voice recordings be your companion throughout your tour!
Another top favourite would be the more recent Art Science Museum, located at the Marina Bay Shoppe area. However, their main exhibits are constantly changing, except for the Essential Eames showcase. So if you are interested in what exhibitions are currently on showcase, you can take a look at their website for more details.
3. Go on a Bookstore Binge
Picture credit: jumping--jellybeans.blogspot
For those who tire wading through the madness of Orchard Road. Wanting to shop in peace and quiet without being shadowed by an omnipresent being also known as your sales assistant. You are now in luck! Bookstores are ideal location for any solo trip down to the shops.
Having been bookshop binging on several occasions both alone and with friends, I have always found that book browsing is an activity done better by yourself than with companions. Only then are you free to spend as long as you like having a literary (metaphorical) orgasm over the most recent book cover of The Great Gatsby without being nagged at every ten seconds to go eat at the Takopachi store on the floor below.
The best bookstore, in my humble opinion, would be the Kinokuniya Main Store located at Ngee Ann City. Their stock of book variety is the most extensive and diverse of all the bookstores I have visited, and the whole vibe of the place has a tranquil feeling of a time vacuum. Where time no longer moves and you can be quietly transported into the lands of Oliver Twist and Elizabeth Bennet.
4. Watch a movie alone
This is one is mainly for the people who have been unwittingly ‘pang-sehed’ (deserted) by their friends at shopping malls, hiding out in toilets in fear lest they are publicly lynched for their solitary state. For these poor souls, why not try some alone movie-watching?
Although this is not really a uniquely Singaporean activity, I think it is still worth the experience for those who want to try out something different (Bonus kudos if it is a horror movie!). Besides, if you are like me and hate getting interrupted half-way through a really intense staring scene with hot hot Jennifer Lawrence by the sound of noisy popcorn eating by your friend next to you, solo movie dates definitely are the way to go!
I don't really see how watching a movie should be considered a social activity anyway. You are basically just sitting in a dark room together while not being able to talk while getting popcorn "accidentally" violently flung in your general vicinity.
5. Visit an animal shelter
If you are feeling #foreveralone like the Grinch who stole Christmas, then why not head down to a local kennel or animal shelter for some tail-wagging good fun! On most days, the SPCA will open its kennels for visitors to come have a pow-wow with man’s four-legged best friend and it is definitely chicken soup for all the lonely souls out there.
Besides, there is probably nothing better than some fluffy puppy-loving therapy! Many of these kennels and shelters are also in a dire need of volunteers to help wash the cages or walk the dogs. So if you are in the mood for making some new friends with the other similar-minded volunteers, and don’t mind getting your paws *ahem* hands dirty, helping out at a local animal shelters would be definitely a great place to start!
As quoted from one of my old primary school teachers, who is an avid volunteer at street dog shelters: "If you can, adopt. If you can't adopt, foster. If you can't foster, donate. If you can't donate, volunteer."
You can get the visitor hours and website information for some of the local animal shelters down below:
- 1. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA)
- 2. Save Our Street Dogs (SOSD)
- 3. Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD)
6. Parks and Natural trails
Although Singapore is not known for its sprawling parks like the famous Central Park of NYC, we do certainly have a sizeable pool of parks for those seeking more blood-pumping activities than the usual café hopping. Exercising is also a healthy way for individuals looking to blow off some steam, especially in Singapore's high-pressure working/school environments.
The more traditional choice for exercising will be a trip down to East Coast Park, where aside from the usual option of running and jogging, there are also bicycle and roller blade rental shops which rent out bikes and the like for a few dollars an hour.
For the ecologists and nature-lovers, why not escape from the concrete jungle and take a nature hike at MacRitchie Reservoir, which is also a top favourite among TSL reviewers. The fantastic bird’s eye view and the serene tranquillity of nature aside, there is even a tree top walk where you can act out the iconic “I’m the King of the World!” scene from Titanic.
For more of these type of adventures also be sure to check out our 52 things to do in Singapore before you die list.
7. Watch free performances at the Waterfront@Esplanade
Photo Credit: Biyaherongbarat
No need to splurge away all your hard earned money on expensive $180 tickets to see a performance in the Esplanade. Instead, how about spending the low, low price of zero dollars watching performances outside of the Esplanade!
Esplanade – On the Waterfront is a free outdoor event held every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings as well as on the eve of and on public holidays. Skip the trip with the co-workers to the bar, and TGIF in front of the Singapore River with a series of musical performances for that inner indie soul!
Performances can range from Bell Charms to Pop Orchestras, so there is a performance for all musical types. The best part is that if you go alone, you can spend your time actually listening to the music, instead of having a running commentary by your friend who is adamant that the lead singer is singing “out of tune”.
More information on upcoming shows can be found on the Esplanade's website.
8. Find a cosy niche and let the creativity flow!
This recommendation is for all those creative souls out there itching to get the creative juices flowing once more. As suggested by Jian Qiang, try taking an instrument to the park and maybe strum out a few Taylor Swift songs or two.
Though I am not a big believer in feng shui, getting out the house and sitting down on a park bench or at a cozy coffee shop always gets my creative juices flowing. More over, it is only when you are out of your comfort zone (i.e your bed) then you can be exposed to an endless stream of unlikely inspiration that can lead to your next masterpiece!
Below are my top 5 local places to hang out and find that next source of inspiration:
- Grassy area next to the Cavenagh Bridge at Boat Quay. Met a local street magician performing there once!
- The Sea Wall/Jetty at East Coast Park
- Marina Bay Sands's SkyPark deck
- Local kopitiams/coffee shops
- Benches along the Gardens by the Bay park area
9. Indulge in a solo hobby
Who knew kite flying was even possible in hot and humid Singapore? For the past few years, I have been kept in the dark about the mystifying kite-flying scene over at Marina Barrage (among other locations!) But no more! In fact, the Marina Barrage has even been host to the Singapore International Kite Day 2011, as well as being a popular ground for families and kids looking for some outdoorsy good fun!
On a windy Sunday evening, the entire skyline can be dotted with little specks of colour, as hardcore kite flyers and novices alike, perch on the grassy grounds and stare in wonderment as kites are slowly taken up by the breeze and take flight. The comfortable and light-hearted atmosphere at the barrage is a sure-win for any individuals looking for idyllic afternoons of lying on the ground, looking up as the world goes by in a flurry of rainbow coloured kites.
You can find directions to the Marina Barrage here.
Of course, Kite flying is just one example of a hobby you can have on your own. Both these pictures of kite flying and fishing are by Jensen and the one below shows a fisherman having a good time by himself.
10. Go on a Indiana Jones style Foodie Trail!
Picture Credit: TSL Instagram
Café hopping or food ‘questing’ as suggested by Edlyn, is a great idea for any foodies out there raring to go all Indiana Jones in search for their next best cup of hot chocolate!
This little Red Dot is practically teeming with unknown gems in the form of hidden coffee shops and tucked away eateries. So why not arrange a monthly food themed 'competition' with friends to see who can find the best eatery for a certain dish or the restaurant with the chillest atmosphere!
Not only will it give those Han Solo foodies some time alone to hunt down the next “Big Thing” on their menus, but it will also help more people find out about those hidden treasures that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.
Besides, if you go on food outings by yourself, it will probably mean less talking and more violent shoving of food between determined snapping of Instagram pictures for your next #foodporn.
And if you need something to get you started, here's Averlynn's list of 45 of the best cafes to check out in Singapore.
This concludes my list of the top ten things you can do alone in Singapore. Know another activity or place that is just great for you to enjoy on your own? Do comment below so we can improve this list!
Lastly, I would like to encourage all those secret Han Solos out there who are too self-conscious or afraid of being #foreveralone in public. Try to open up and find your own sense of independence. After all, even if someone makes fun of you being a single lady (or man!), they can very well put a ring on it.